Dealing With Change … GAME-DAY CUP O’CHIEFS

From Denver, Colorado

Patrick Bowlen owns the Denver Broncos with his siblings. Clark Hunt is chairman of the Chiefs and owns the team with his mother and siblings.

Despite the fact they are of two different generations and Bowlen is 21 years older than Hunt, some 23 months ago they shared similar thoughts about the direction of their football teams. They didn’t like the landscape of their franchises and both felt too far removed from the decision making process.

So Bowlen decided to fire the man who had led the organization for 14 years, head coach Mike Shanahan. Hunt asked Carl Peterson, the man who had run the Chiefs for 20 years to step aside a year earlier than his planned retirement. Both set about remaking their operations, from the locker room, to the coaching suite, to the front office.

On Sunday afternoon, the 5-3 Chiefs of Clark Hunt are visiting Invesco Field to play the 2-6 Broncos of Pat Bowlen. Kickoff is set for 3:05 CST, with television coverage on CBS-TV with Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots.

Since the owners put into motion their changes neither team has enjoyed much success on the field. Hunt’s Chiefs are 9-15 and on the upward swing through the first half of the 2010 season. Bowlen’s Broncos are one game better at 10-14, but only 4-14 in their last 18 games.

Both men reached into the New England Patriots talent pool to find the men to run their football operation. For Hunt it was GM Scott Pioli and for Bowlen it was head coach Josh McDaniels. It would be an understatement to say that both men have completely remade their teams.

Pioli hired Todd Haley and their approach has been to rebuild the Chiefs in the manner of their mentor Bill Parcells – defense, the running game and strong special teams. Right now, nobody is quite sure what McDaniels’ overall philosophy is when it comes to the Broncos; there have been so many changes of personnel and it’s struggled to take hold.

There has been one major change to the way the guys in orange and blue play football – they don’t run the ball the way they used to, which was the best in the NFL. From the time Shanahan took over as head coach in 1995, through his final season in 2008, no team in the league ran for more yards than the Broncos. Check out these numbers:


# Team






Yds Per Game

1. Denver







2. Pittsburgh







3. Minnesota














5. Jacksonville







It didn’t matter who the running back was, Denver had six different running backs go for 1,000 yards or more over a 12-year period from 1995 through 2006 (Terrell Davis, Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, Clinton Portis, Reuben Droughns and Tatum Bell.)

There will be no 1,000-yard rusher wearing a Broncos uniform this year. After eight games, the team’s leading rusher is Knowshon Moreno, with 252 yards. That projects to 504 yards for the season. Right now Denver is ranked No. 32 and last in rushing yards, averaging 67.3 yards per game. Understand that in 14 years under Shanahan on average they finished sixth in the league in rushing.

There are 17 individual backs in the league right now who have run for more than the 538 yards Denver has accumulated, and that includes both Jamaal Charles (719 yards) and Thomas Jones (570 yards).

So what’s the problem with the Broncos running game? There’s a lack of top-shelf talent in the backfield and the developmental process seems to have broken down as well. They traded away Peyton Hillis before the ’10 season in exchange for QB Brady Quinn, who has not stepped on the field yet for a regular season game.

The offensive line is a shambles compared to what it used to be under Shanahan. Denver’s zone blocking scheme was installed by Alex Gibbs and continued under Rick Dennison. But McDaniels brought in a change of approach, and the Broncos want bigger blockers. That’s one reason they passed on another year with Casey Wiegmann at center and they’ve got a 305-pound rookie playing the position.

If Denver hopes to beat the Chiefs and get a good start to the second half of the season, the offense must be able to run the football. The Broncos have thrown the ball a lot, but that same offensive line that’s struggled in the running game has allowed QB Kyle Orton to get hit far too many times.

That’s why the offensive line has been shuffled. Rookie Zane Beadles had been starting at RT, but he’s moved to LG this week. Ryan Harris moves back into the RT spot he held before suffering injuries during the pre-season.

“I think the more we can settle in and get a group playing together for as many straight days as we can, the better off I think we will play,” said McDaniels. “Knowshon is probably as healthy as he has been all year, which is a plus for him and for us. Hopefully, we can start to see some strides made in the running game.”

Moreno needs to step forward. He’s had to deal with hamstring injuries all season, and supposedly the bye week has helped him regain his legs.

“We’d like to get him going, you know what I mean,” McDaniels said of Moreno. “That’s an important part for us coming off of the first half of the year. We didn’t get that phase of our team going. He’s an important part of getting that thing going in the right direction.”

The Chiefs coaches certainly noticed the change in what the Broncos do on offense.

“They still have run capabilities and they do run the football, sometimes the game situation dictates that you don’t run it as much so when you get behind,” said defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. “I think they’ve been behind some and trying to play catch up so that’s where they end up throwing it a little bit more.”

Defensively, the Broncos have been forced to switch from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 because of injuries at linebacker. They’ll be without starting OLB Robert Ayers and leading tackler D.J. Williams, who was arrested on DUI charges early Friday morning, will not start but will play.

“It causes a little bit of guessing because they’ve gone back and forth between a 3-4 and a 4-3 defense, within the last month even,” said offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. “They’ve gone back and forth, one week they were 3-4 and one week they were 4-3 and then interchanging inside of a game going back and forth. That actually causes your players to do some more extra mental preparation because you have to be ready within a game to face multiple fronts based off of the personnel that’s out there.”

No matter what defensive front they play, the Broncos must find a way to stop the Chiefs running game. With the Chiefs averaging 179.6 yards per game going against a Denver defense that allows an average of 154.6 yards per game – that should be advantage K.C.


The Chiefs signed S Ricky Price off their practice squad Saturday evening, a pretty good indication that Jon McGraw, Kendrick Lewis or both will be on the inactive list for Sunday’s game.

To make room on the 53-man roster, the Chiefs released LB Charlie Anderson.

Price signed originally with the Chiefs as a college free agent in 2009 out of Oklahoma State. He was released on the final cut before the ’09 regular season, but returned to the practice squad in late October. He was promoted to the active roster for the final two games of the season, against Cincinnati and Denver. He had three tackles.

McGraw (knee) and Lewis (hamstring) have been on the injury report this week, with McGraw getting almost no practice time, while Lewis seemed to be working a normal shift with the defense.

Anderson played two games with the Chiefs, with all of that action coming on special teams where he was not credited with a tackle. He was inactive for five other games.


The Denver Broncos announced Saturday afternoon that leading tackler LB D.J. Williams will not be in the starting lineup on Sunday against the Chiefs. He is also no longer a co-captain on the defense and he’s been fined $15,000 because of his DUI arrest early Friday morning.

“The Denver Broncos are extremely disappointed in D.J. Williams’ careless and irresponsible actions,” read a team statement. “The Broncos have levied the heaviest fines possible to him for conduct detrimental to the club …”

Williams apparently will be active for the game and how much he plays will be a good indication of whether the Broncos discipline is a PR move or a real smack on the hand. Reportedly, he may sit for the first quarter, matching the discipline handed down to WR Braylon Edwards by the New York Jets when he was arrested on a DUI charge earlier this year.


  • BENGALS – placed RT Andre Smith on the injured-reserve list (foot) ending his season; signed S Rico Murray off their practice squad.
  • BROWNS – signed DL Brian Sanford off their practice squad; released OT Paul McQuistan.
  • CHIEFS – signed S Ricky Price off their practice squad; released LB Charlie Anderson.
  • COLTS – released S Chip Vaughn; signed WR Chris Brooks off their practice squad.
  • JAGUARS – placed DE Aaron Kampman on the injured reserve list (knee) ending his season. Signed DT Nate Collins.
  • SEAHAWKS – re-signed WR Ruvell Martin; released DT Frank Okam.
  • TEXANS – placed CB Karl Paymah on the injured-reserve list (wrist) ending his season; signed S Torri Williams off their practice squad.

7 Responses to “Dealing With Change … GAME-DAY CUP O’CHIEFS”

  • November 14, 2010  - Tracy says:

    Josh McDaniels seems to have been swinging wildly when he took over for Denver. He likely knew that Scott Pioli would probably make a play for Matt Cassel so perhaps his overture in that regard was a preemptive strike. Whatever the motivation, it started the ball rolling on the downhill plunge the team has taken since its 6-0 start in 2009.

    Pat Bowlen’s termination of Mike Shanahan was at first a little puzzling from our vantage point as it seemed he always had his teams ready to play. But apparently there was internal turmoil stemming from Shanahan’s dual role as GM. Maybe the simmering situation in Washington bears out the misgivings Bowlen had.

    It is too bad for Bowlen that his health is giving him problems because things are uneasy right now for the Broncoes. They are looking at a 4 or 5 win season and possibly a new coach. If McDaniels had not done such a thorough George Allen sendup by dealing away his draft choices there might be some light at the end of the tunnel for them, but instead that sound in the distance has much chance to be a killer tornado as a rescue train.

  • November 14, 2010  - Chuck says:

    BOB; I have always wondered what a guy like a Charlie Anderson DOES REGARDING LOGISTICS???? In other words, he came from the Dolphins just about 4 short weeks ago. We sign him for a month and then we CUT HIM. I feel sorry for guys like this. Do guys like Charlie just learn to LIVE OUT OF A HOTEL???? I can’t imagine they would buy a house or even rent an apartment as most of them have atleast 6 month leases. Tough way to live.

  • November 14, 2010  - el cid says:

    Chuck, don’t you sort of think there is a sub-culture in the NFL of guys who spend about 5 years being practice squaders and training camp fodder? They get to keep playing football and get a pay check. Most never make it to a real game. Fans keep saying “_____ would be just what the team needs IF only they got the chance (L. Long?)”. But honestly they are just guys to scrimage against, fill in for an injury, and get cut when position numbers change. It is all about still playing and a decent paycheck. Probably be 100 guys who would trade places with Anderson anytime.

  • November 14, 2010  - matt says:

    Anybody else notice Haley Did Not shake hands at end of game and Pointed finger and said something to Mc Daniels?

  • November 14, 2010  - el cid says:

    Noticed and first “classy” event of the game. Every other part sort of sucked.

  • November 14, 2010  - matt says:

    too bad rest of the team didnt have that outright anger toward the game

  • November 14, 2010  - matt says:

    replay doesnt work? RIGHT!!!

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